Few Wales fans can remember their last World Cup campaign, and fewer have ever watched a Welsh team like this.
Previous World Cup appearances: first
best ending: Quarterfinals (1958)
A world record: W1 L1 D3
biggest win: 2-1 vs Hungary (1958)
Players to watch: Gareth Bale
things: US (November 21), Iran (November 25), UK (November 29)
It’s been 64 years since Pele’s first World Cup goal ended Wales’ 1958 campaign.
Football is out of fashion, especially in rugby-playing Wales centres, as fans have endured decades of frustration.
But something changed in 2016. And that was none other than the arrival of a new generation of gold. Led by former Real Madrid and Tottenham superstar Gareth Bale, these new Welsh gladiators – Aaron Ramsey, Joe Allen and Wayne Hennessey – have captured the hearts and imaginations of people across the country as they advance to the semi-finals of Euro 2016.
Four years later, reaching the quarter-finals of Euro 2020 has not quenched the fire they have lit back home. Suddenly, it looked like Wales could play football.
The roots of this success go even further, with many pointing to Gary Speed’s hard-working and honest tenure as the catalyst for Wales’s fortunes to change.
In the four years following his untimely death in 2011, Wales rose 109 places in the rankings, from 117 to 8.
“Gary started this 12, 13 years ago and the changes he’s made, the professionalism he’s brought, he’s led by those standards,” said former Watford captain Rob Rob. Page, who has led the Wales team since November 2020, told a newspaper. collect at Senedd, the Welsh parliament. “I see it in Gareth [Bale] today, the way he leads.”
– A league of their own (@ALOTO) September 9, 2022
Wales faced a tough European qualifying campaign under Page’s guidance to reach Qatar, but finished second in a group that included Belgium, second in the world, and the Czech Republic.
Then came play-off wins over Austria and Ukraine in front of a jubilant home crowd, and Wales booked a flight to Doha.
While Page brought a team with a lot of experience to Qatar, he had to suspect that this could be one of the last international tournaments this group competes in. Luckily for Page and for the rest of Wales, he has Brennan Johnson, 21, to provide some fresh legs when the older players tire, and to build continuity for the future.
Watch out for his name on the scoreboard in Qatar.
Facing England, the US and Iran in their group, Wales will have high hopes of reaching the knockout stages. If they can keep their veterans injury-free, they have a better chance of going further.
Regardless of what happens in Qatar, Wales has a newfound pride when it comes to qualifying for the World Cup.
Actor Michael Sheen told the team: “Yma o hyd, you’re sons of Speed. “When they fell around us, we were still here!”